"When Joseph awoke from sleep,
he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him..."
Today is the Feast of St. Joseph, a major feast day in the life of the Church. Joseph is often called the ‘Guardian of our Lord Jesus Christ,” drawing attention to the unique relationship between Joseph and our Lord, who is both son of Jospeh and son of the living God.
Sacred scripture actually tells us quite a lot about Joseph –
We know that he had an angelic visitation in the time before Jesus’ birth, a divine command to remain in relationship with the unwed, expectant mother, Mary.
We know that he had a second visitation, a warning to flee the coming wrath of Herod, and that he heeded that call, seeking refuge in Egypt for several years with his young family.
We know that he was a carpenter and that he was known in the community of Nazareth, where his family returned to settle, for his work.
We know that he cared deeply for Jesus, in such scenes as the frantic search for the lost child in Jerusalem.
We know that he was deeply faithful to God, a devout keeper of the practices of the Jewish tradition.
Time and again, scripture reveals in Joseph a faithful spouse, a caring parent, and a devoted follower of God’s audacious call. I am always struck by his propensity to say ‘yes,’ particularly when his better judgement and all the voices surrounding him might well have instructed him to say ‘no.’
Joseph’s ‘yes’ to God’s bold and astonishing entry into our human experience makes possible all the ‘yeses’ that follow. Mary is not cast to the margins as an unwed mother, Jesus is not slaughtered by Herod among the Holy Innocents, Jesus is cared for, raised up to know and claim the love of God that lives in and through him.
Within the first-century context of Jesus’ incarnation, it is impossible to underscore the importance of Joseph’s role in God’s story of our redemption. To every sacred summons, Joseph says ‘yes.’
On this day, we pray, “Give us grace to imitate his uprightness of life and his obedience to your commands…” May it be so.